Not sure if I have blogged about this before but the first watch I bought when I seriously stared collecting watches was a Favre Leuba Sea King that I bought off ebay for less than $10.
A few hundred watches later, I still like the Favre Leuba brand name and I sometimes wonder why no one has bought and re-launched the brand along the lines of what has happened to Titus, Pronto, Camy, Titoni and many other brands.
Most Favre Leuba watches that I see on sale come from India (and that may have something to do with why the brand has not been re-launched) so when I was in India late last year, I asked Abhay if he knew where I could find one.
He managed to dig up this very classic looking Sea-Chief and it has taken me a few weeks but I finally got around to giving it a thorough clean and polish and have been wearing it this last couple of days.
It’s been running and keeping time very well!
The simple and cost effective, 4 step cleaning process I follow are:
The first thing I normally do when I pick up a watch of this vintage is to detach the bracelet and let it soak in a solution of dishwashing liquid for at least a day. In the case of this Favre Leuba, I did not detach the bracelet but rather suspended it above a solution of dishwashing liquid.
The bracelet is quite flimsy (it is an old aftermarket version and not an original) and also because there was not that much ‘gunk’ (dirt) in it.
After soaking overnight, I use an old toothbrush and concentrated liquid soap or dishwashing liquid and give the undersides of the case, face and also acrylic – and any other part of the watch – a very thorough brushing to remove larger pieces of dirt.
I then use an old spectacle cleaning cloth and a pin to prod and clean the harder to reach places that a toothbrush cannot reach and hen end with another thorough brushing.
This ultimately means that the watch itself gets wet and depending on your gaskets or seals on the back, winder and pushers, your watch could end up looking like this very sorry looking Tag. It is a watch that is owned by a reader of this blog. He bought it used and had to get it repaired shortly after purchasing it. It looked like this after just a couple of days of normal wear and from memory, moisture seeped in whenever he washed his hands.
It is NOT something I recommend doing often and you need to be as careful as possible during this process. The less moisture your watch is exposed to, the better.
Dry your watch with a hand towel as soon as possible and then use a hand-dryer or hair-dryer, set on a medium setting to blow dry your watch. Repeat this process at least 3 – 5 times and take your time doing this as the watch may look dry but there is probably some moisture that has seeped in and you need to dry this out as fast and as much as possible to avoid damage to the dial and movement.
Water or moisture is in my opinion the worst thing you can expose your watch mechanism to.
As an aside, I have been ‘working’ for more than 4 years on a friends 6 hand Omega Seamaster that he used to wear when swimming and I still can’t get it to work right. It has even been sent back to Omega in Switzerland and they can’t fix it properly. The next time I get my hands on it it, it will need a complete re-build.
Some ‘professionals’ are going to balk at this next bit.
I use Autosol which you can pick up at almost any hardware shop for a couple of dollars to polish my watches.
Just dab a small piece on a spectacle cleaning cloth and use that to polish your watch. Many watch dealers and collectors have an old cloth that they have been using for years that looks all blackened and grungy that they use to restore watches to their previous glory. Whatever polish you use, I recommend doing the same thing i.e. keep an old cloth and use it repeatedly, for years to give your watches a polish.
Overall it was a successful operation and I now have an addition to the collection that I hope to enjoy for years to come.